Czech company computer hitch hits the world

Astonishing as it might seem, a small Czech company is red-faced after causing an international Internet collapse in an incident which has underlined the World Wide Web’s fragility.

Supro, an Internet provider based in the eastern city of Uherský Brod, caused the Internet to fail across the world when one of its five staff made a small error changing the settings on one of its servers.

The rapid result was an hour long Internet blackout in up to a fifth of the world during the middle of this month.

Spain, Belgium, New Zealand and Egypt were worst affected, according to US-based Internet analysis and solutions company, Renesys, which monitored the collapse. People in the US and China were also unable to send e-mails or browse websites.

Bosses of the Czech company were today unwilling to talk about the collapse even though they have been praised for acting fast to deal with it. But the collapse has sparked a worldwide debate among Internet security experts, according to the international magazine, Computer World.

Czech Internet service provider Dial Telecom’s Zbyněk Pospíchal described the series of steps that sparked the collapse.

“They typed a bad number in the configuration of their router. That is the mistake Supro made. The second mistake was in the configuration of their router which allows this mistake. The third mistake was the bug in a lot of old routers over the world in a lot of networks.”

Pospíchal says the problem then spread around the world in a way which has not been seen for more than more than a decade.

“It was the first time a collapse has been so big since, I do not know, 1996 or 1997.”

He says internet service providers will now be rushing to check their servers to make sure this cannot happen again. For the unfortunate Czech company, the worldwide notoriety will not be welcome but it is mostly serves the local market.